Friday, February 22, 2013

The Parable of the Cake

Let's pretend that it's your friend's birthday tomorrow and you want to bake him a cake. So you grab all the ingredients and start mixing. Except you don't really care about how it tastes, so it's no big deal when you add in an extra five tablespoons of salt. Then you think it doesn't really matter how much flour you use, so you leave out a cup. Then you get busy watching Downton Abbey (and if you aren't watching this show, you should be) and the cake gets burned. You know it's a terrible cake, but it's the thought that counts, right? Should you be upset when he takes a bit, makes a face and refuses to eat anymore?

So you know it's a terrible cake, but you decide that if you decorate it well enough, he won't notice the terrible inside. After rummaging through Pinterest, you find a recipe for an amazing homemade frosting that is sweet yet light. You add colorful fondant that tastes better than it looks. Even Buddy Valastro would approve of this decorating. Should you be upset when he sees it, gets excited, takes a huge slice, then makes a grossed out face when he takes a first bite? How could he be so rude, after all the effort you put into this cake!

But let's pretend you actually made an amazing cake. You hunted down your grandma's world famous chocolate cake recipe. You spent several hours measuring and stirring. You constantly checked the cake as it was baking, to make sure it didn't get too brown. Heaven itself wouldn't prohibit such a perfect cake. However, you have an odd sense of cake decorating, and with your hands you grab huge chunks of the cake and toss it into a bowl. Then you toss in some chunks of cheap store-brand frosting on it and call it good. At the last minute, you find some year old Christmas sprinkles and add a bit of color. Should you be upset when he glances at it, mutters a polite thanks and then sets the bowl aside? Why can't he see the cake for what it is on  the inside?!

I hope you see where I'm going with this. Making a cake is like dating. Both the inside and outside need careful attention. You can't get upset with guys when they ditch you if they realize you are a pretty but selfish, gossipy brat. Don't be too hard on them when they automatically flock to girls who dress well and use the right amount of makeup. Don't you do exactly the same thing to guys? No girl wants to date a jerk, but every girl has a crush on the boy in the ward who looks like he just stepped out of an American Eagle catalog. No girl wants to date the kid who smells like B.O., but every girl wants to date the nice guy who smiles a lot. 

The most basic principle of how to get a date is focus on yourself first. I like this because I can control me. I can't control who asks me out, how often he asks me out and whether we end up getting married. But I can make myself better, which means I can expect a better man in the long run. I can love myself more, which means happiness even when I'm home alone on a Friday night. The next couple of posts will focus on how to change your inside and outside, but for now, focus on the cake. Are you the best possible cake you can be?

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